Gorilla, the largest primate. There are three subspecies. The western lowland gorilla inhabits the rain forests of Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, the extreme southwestern Central African Republic, and extreme southeastern Nigeria. The eastern lowland gorilla inhabits the rain forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The mountain gorilla inhabits the Virunga Mountains on the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.

A large male gorilla stands nearly six feet (1.8 m) tall and may weigh 600 pounds (270 kg). Gorillas have heavy bodies, short legs, and long arms. Gorillas usually walk on all fours but frequently stand upright. The massive head has a heavily ridged brow, flattened nose, powerful jaws, and receding chin. Black skin covers face, hands, and feet. The hair is grayish on the chest. Females and young males have black hair on the back. Older males are called silverbacks because the back hair turns silver-gray at about age 12. Gorillas live up to 50 years.

GorillasGorillas have heavy bodies, short legs, and long arms.

Gorillas eat leaves, tree bark, roots, flowers, fruit, and grubs. They travel in family troops of 5 to 15 members. The female usually bears one young every three to four years, nine months after mating.

The gorilla is one of the most intelligent apes. Some domesticated gorillas have been taught to form sentences using American Sign Language or by pressing symbols on a computer keyboard. They have also been taught to drink from a cup, eat with utensils, and draw on paper.

Gorillas are endangered because of poaching (for their meat and skins), the reduction of their range from the clearing of land for farming, and the encroachment of tourists. Gorillas are protected by law in several African game refuges.

Facts in brief about gorillas
Gestation period: From 8 to 9 months.
Number of newborn: 1.
Length of life: Up to 50 years in captivity; in the wild, unknown.
Where found: East-central and west Africa.
Scientific classification: Gorillas belong to the anthropoid ape family, Pongidae. They are genus Gorilla, species G. gorilla.
Are Gorillas the “Greatest” of the Great Apes?

In terms of size, yes. Gorillas are the largest of the great apes. Gorillas have huge shoulders—nearly twice as wide as those of chimpanzees. Gorillas also have a broad chest, long arms, and short legs.

Not all gorillas look alike. Some differences include color and length of hair, size of jaw, shape of face, and length of arms. Because of these differences, scientists have divided gorillas into three varieties, or subspecies. They are the western lowland gorilla, the eastern lowland gorilla, and the mountain gorilla. As their names suggest, each lives in a different area of Africa.

Are Gorillas As Fierce As They Look?

When people think of a gorilla, they might think of a ferocious beast, beating its chest with its fists. Male gorillas sometimes behave this way when they want to show their strength. But acting like this actually helps them end or even avoid a conflict with another gorilla. The gorilla that looks stronger often drives the other away without a fight.

Male gorillas do sometimes fight over territory or mates. But gorillas are mainly gentle animals that need companionship and attention. They are actually rather shy. A gorilla will not hurt a human being unless it is threatened or attacked.